Craft beer drinkers are experiencing the golden age of beer. From added choice….to style…..to quality, craft beer has never been better and there’s never been more of it. And while craft and micro brewers continue to dominate their portion of the market, it’s the home brewer section that intrigues me. In many ways home brewing has been left to build and grow itself over the years with very little brand intervention, but that is changing as big brands and craft brewers alike recognize the potential that this small but mighty community holds. Here are two of those innovations impacting home brewers:
Free-Styling with PicoBrew:
Meet Pico, the all-in-one brew machine. For the novel price of $799, beer fanatics who might not want to get “under the hood” of home brewing can create and brew their own beer with little or no effort at all – the entire process takes about 5 days to complete and even gives users the option to adjust the IBUs and ABV of their concoction. This invention is sure to draw a bunch of skeptics, myself included, but it does highlight how the PicoBrew guys out in Seattle decided to stand out from the craft beer scene, and I commend them for that.Even better, at CES, which is a conference usually reserved for robots and virtual reality, PicoBrew stole headlines for their innovative FreeStyle Pikopaks which allows home brewers to build a multitude of different beer styles, like a stout, IPA or Pilsner, all by buying a certain PikoPak, which they can then customize by adding or subtracting a multitude of different brew ingredients like chocolate malt or extra hops . Even more appealing to beer lovers is that each PikoPaks harks from the original recipes of several West Coast brewers, including Coronado Brewery and Harlem Brewing.
A K-Cup for Beer:
On the other end of the spectrum is what Keurig is doing with their partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev. The new venture is aimed at creating an “in-home alcohol system” which will presumably give beer lovers the ability to brew their very own beer using Keurig’s KOLD system, which will be combined with AB InBev’s “brewing and packaging technology.” The result might be a more mass-produced version of PikoBrew that could create AB InBev staples like Budweiser and Stella Artois quickly and efficiently. And while many in the craft beer scene might scoff at this, there definitely is potential here if AB InBev continues their strategic moves into the craft beer market through buyouts. Who knows, maybe the recipe of your favorite IPA or Porter will be found in one of Keurig’s iconic K-Cup contraptions in the future.
Regardless of how you might feel about home brewing, it’s clear that brewers and beverage brands alike are beginning to see this market as the new frontier to target average beer drinkers. It will be interesting to watch how these innovations impact the home brew and larger craft beer community moving forward.